Pete, Nicola, Lola and Nell love to travel with as small a carbon footprint as they can. Here's how they will enjoy world food this September. Post by Nicola
It's nearly the end of Ramadan and some of the mums (many with connections to Bangladesh, Somalia, Tukey and Nigeria) at my younger daughter's school are clearly looking forward to their long month of fasting to finish. There should be a big party in many homes for Eid Marabuk sometime this week - maybe wednesday, or thursday - definitely Friday (it all depends on the moon, and no doubt other details). I just wish someone would ask me to one of these celebratory parties as this will be a brilliant celebration feast.
Harvest festivals - and this year Ramadan - show that religions are clever at using our love of food as a spritual in, and an opportunity to thank too. But the UK has genius (often secular) food traditions - not just our fried breakfasts - and despite all our supermarket addictions it is hard not to miss the best autumn seasonal treats. Right now I'm loving blackberries, Conference pears, damsons, greengages, plums, cobnuts and the few grapes my one-year old vine kindly produced.
Obviously you can enjoy these treats on your own, but another way is to go to a food festival like Brighton and Hove which promises a chance to "taste the world" between 1 September and 7 October, neatly including the nationally celebrated local food week with a celebratory picnic at Preston Park on 25 September, from 11am-4pm. There's even a Regency Banquet - with dresses as sumptuous as the dishes, perhaps with even a few Indian courses given the look-East outlook of the time.
A quick look at the fascinating website of Common Ground (art merged with local distincitiveness) shows that 3 September was the opening of the oyster fisheries in Colchester, a tradition dating back to the 13th century. As you probably know tradition decrees that oysters can only be fished/eaten when there is an R in the month. This year Colchester's Mayor - a confirmed landlubber - caused outcry by doing the gin and gingerbread ceremony (yes, I know it sounds strange...) on dry land rather than a boat. She seems to have done it well though and the oysters can now be served up again.
More worryingly all blackberries are meant to be picked by St Michaelmas Day which this year is 29 September - after that the Devil has either spat on them or done something unspeakably horrible - so you have been warned. I have an Italian friend who says blackberries are considered unlucky throughout Italy making it a brilliant place to pick these delectable fruits. (And if you've got kids they are also a brilliant non-toxic face paint!).
But cutting back on your jam and blackberry and apple crumble supplies (assuming you've stocked up the freezer) does give you time to enjoy apple day and all the picking, preserving and juicing that goes with it on 21 October.
I am sure every nation has moments of food glut - the season of mangoes in the Caribbean, sardines in the Mediterranean, rich cream from Swiss cows, tumeric wherever spices grow - which you learn to love as a child and anticipate as an adult. Enjoy your autumn tastebuds and if you can't make it to a festival like Brighton's (or somewhere more local to you) you can always create your own special nature's larder celebration at home. Cheers!